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McCain-Obama Foreign Policy Debate Ignores Reality in Iraq

Friday, May 23, 2008

The sniping between Barack Obama and the GOP over negotiating with rogue state leaders and other unsavory characters is even more removed from reality than the usual campaign rhetoric. The question of whether a President Obama would sit down with Iranian leaders grabs attention, but is largely irrelevant. Far more relevant is the fact that in Iraq -- the highest-stakes arena of U.S. foreign policy -- Americans already routinely negotiate with their enemies.

From American soldiers and Marines meeting with Sunni insurgents and Shiite militiamen, to American diplomats meeting with their Iranian counterparts, negotiation has been at the heart of America's Iraq strategy for years now. In the case of the Sunni insurgents, a willingness to negotiate and compromise yielded one of the most stunning successes of the mostly disastrous American occupation. By identifying and exploiting conflicts between hard-core religious radicals and more pragmatic insurgents, the U.S. military has been able to decimate organizations that had been its most vicious and implacable foes. ...

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